Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Film: Sienna Miller's Factory Girl Q&A

I got a little face time with the British actress Sienna Miller last week when she came to LA for supporting interviews for her upcoming flick Factory Girl in which the director George Hickenlooper, best known for writing and directing the documentary The Mayor of the Sunset (a great film if you're into music history, lore )...In Factory he delves into the life of Edie Sedgwick (Miller) who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and moved to New York City in the mid-'60s. Sedgwick quickly established herself in the upper echelons of artsy Manhattan by becoming fast friends with Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) and, thanks to her good looks and a little help from the famed fashionista Diana Vreeland (Illeana Douglas), made the covers of popular magazines like Life and's some of what took place last week

Q: So what did you think of this role? Was it a "role-of-a-lifetime" kind of thing or what?

Sienna Miller: I think so. I think that there are just very few roles, especially when you're my age, that have substance and that are that interesting and that [Edie Sedgwick] was just such a fascinating character and there's such a huge arc in the film-- that was rare. I just felt like I really had enough [background] to start at one place and end up at a very, very different place. And it was emotionally challenging but that was completely rewarding as an actress as well. It was great.

Q: This is a fascinating take on fame as well. What's your opinion on this for yourself since you are out there-- how does that affect your personal life? A re you dating anyone right now?

SM: With fame-- I don't have assistants, I don't have a security guard, I live a very, very normal life...I think that, obviously, there are aspects of it that are difficult to deal with but I don't read, I don't know what a blog is-- people come up to me and ask me about blogs and I have no idea. I don't look myself up and I don't read US weekly...I certainly haven't changed at all, I have my same friends I grew up with, I have my dogs, my mom-- I'm not comfortable having that kind of attention so I don't draw it to me...but I'm single at the moment.

Q: Edie was like the party girl and we see a lot of that going on in the media these days with young celebrities, etc. What do you think the lesson should be to those who watch this story?

SM: I don't really have an opinion about them, I think everyone's entitled to their own decisions and I also think that, you know, that 18, 19 year old girls all over the world are doing what those girls [in the media] are doing, they're just not getting photographed doing it. So, I think it's healthy that girls should go out and want to have fun-- I'm not going to judge anyone. And I think that Edie was different-- she had this really psychologically disturbed upbringing-- and reality was just a very hard place for her to exist in, so taking drugs and escaping from that made sense because she was given valium at the age of 8 when she was crying, to calm her down, you know and that was her world. And also, [in] the 60s, it was just a revolutionary time and they were shooting up amphetamines, I mean, I don't know if many young girls were having amphetamine shots like they could just go down the street to a doctor's office and get them. So, it was a different world but, I feel like I kind of empathized with why behaved the way she did, in a way.

Q: Was it difficult for you to develop her as a character, getting her physical ticks, laughter , etc. down?

SM: She just had this beautiful -- I mean a lot to the people that I met [who knew her personally], said that she had this amazing voice. And it's deeper than mine, so I had to kind of growl a bit more and smoke a lot of cigarettes-- oh God, I shouldn't have said that -- I listened to tapes, I went to the Royal Museum and they gave me a CD. The thing about that era, that time, was that they documented everything so well-- so [Andy] Warhol used to often tape his phone conversations, his normal conversations that he'd have with with Edie even when they were just [about] watching a movie or in a cafe or in a car and so I had this CD of all of her conversations and she just had this interesting speech pattern and I worked with this guy that coached (speech) and I did a few sessions with him but I just listened to it over and over and she was just so very mannered and had that funny laugh (laughs like Edie Sedgwick), you know what I mean, and I just worked on her for about a year, [to embody] her total character

Q: Do you think that Edie could've been saved?

SM: That's really hard-- I feel like, I've heard the stories-- he brother actually told me-- that she had this lifeline [in the palm of her hand and it was broken and I think they say it in the film but this palmist, this palm [reading] person was reading her at the time and she reads it and just kind of froze and Edie just says "I know, that's why I'm living life [to the fullest]" and I think she had this really fatalistic sense about herself and she knew that she was going to die young, she just knew this and her brother kind of confirmed this. So I think she knew instinctually that she wasn't going to live for long and that why she kind of exploded. Maybe she could've been saved but I feel that she was totally quite headstrong and made those decisions. And I don't know, I can't think that she couldn't been and wasn't but I do think people did try but she was kind of far gone by that point.

Q: Did you get a body double for the nude scenes?

SM: No, I didn't.

Q: You'll be the total envy of every woman who sees this.

SM: (laughs) No, no, no-- they lighted for hours so that they'd hide every lump and bump and spray your bum so that it's really nice-- it's not like that in real life...they put makeup all over your body so, you know, you look like you have a nice bum which normally is not the same. They put makeup on it and they smooth it out, you know, if it's a little stretch-marky--

Q: -- was that hard for you to go through?

SM: It's not the easiest thing to do but I mean, in a way, I feel like it was important to see her as this glamorous thing that maybe men and women looked to as really attractive and then when you see, at the end of the film, and she's smacked out on the bed and she's this mess, you get the heartbreak of it [all] a little more. And I also believe that if you're going to do a love scene, you might as well do it [in the nude] because people don't have sex with bras on, you know, you might as well [undress] or don't do [the scene] and I'm European but I'm not comfortable...People come up to me and are like, 'oh God, you're so comfortable with your body', and I'm not.

Q: How about the fashion in the film, did it inspire you and your own fashion sense at all?

SM: I think I'm really inspired, generally, by the 60s. I think that it was just such an interesting era and it was such a revolutionary time and I love the music. I feel like I was born too late, that whole decade is just fascinating to me, [Sedgewick] was great, she just had her own thing and the funny thing about Edie is that the reason that she wore those leotards and black tights was because her exercise was just jazz ballet that she'd do in her apartment, she wore those tights and the leotards and then she just couldn't be bothered to change [outfits] so she'd just throw a coat over the top. And suddenly everyone started wearing leotards and the like, so she just sort of stumbled into it. But I really admire her sense of individuality.

Q: Have you seen the finished film yet?

SM: Yeah, just once.

Q: So what do you think of the film's portrayal of the 60s-- as it shows a darker side of that time than what most would care to remember.

SM: I think that the Factory was kind of dark and I think that it was this place for misfits and really vibrant, colorful people but I've heard from the people that were there that it was a very intense scene. And I think that comes across in the film, it's really hard for me, having made it-- and I think it's hard for anyone who's been in a film to be objective about it-- you know, you have your own personal memories that kind of fog your perception of what it is but I think, on the whole-- well, I saw Edie's brother last night and he watched it and he said that we got it, that we nailed it. So, if everyone else in the world doesn't like it, and he does, then I'm [still] sure that we did an okay job.

Q: You said earlier that you get a bit uncomfortable getting your body filmed but you're also one of the world's sex symbols, lets be real, are you self-conscious about any it at alll?

SM: I don't think that I am. (laughs)

Q: Well you are. Are you at all self-conscious about all of that? Are you in the gym everyday, working out?

SM: No, no, I don't go to the gym, I'm not lazy, I'm quite an energetic person but I don't work out and I do eat a lot of food. And I just think that I've got a high metabolism but I know that one day, I'm going to wake up and my boobs will be down there (pointing to knees) and my bum will be on the floor. I mean, I'm still young and I do run around a lot but I'm not, particularly, healthy (conscious) I don't (just) eat salads and things-- I like fat coffee instead of skinny. I'm just quite comfortable, I mean, I've just had a normal life so I feel like I'm fine with who I am. I'm not under any delusions or deceptions. I don't feel glamorous at all. I think that if I wanted to live that life, then I'm doing the right thing where you can poke and prod yourself with hair and makeup. But I just can't be bothered, really, with all of that. So, it's fun, now and then, to go through hair and makeup but I couldn't live with having to do that every day...This is me, it's very nice to be glamorized and made up and all of that but it's not a real thing. You know, I remember I was being shot [for a magazine cover] and I was sort of arched in back a bit and I remember seeing these little lumpy bits and I was like (gasps), you know, but they covered it up [digitally for the cover] and it's like this perfect ass and, with all those magazines, I think it's important for young people to know that it's a nice perception but it's not real. They do airbrushing on it and stretch it out a bit.

Q: Edie Sedgwick was a socialite and you're an actress but what would you be doing if you weren't acting?

SM: I wanted to be an archeologist, actually. I know it sounds weird but I did...maybe something to do with art. I never really allowed myself, if I'm honest, to think about doing anything else, so it's hard to understand. I'd probably be at university reading English Literature.

Q: Let's circle back right quick, you'd mentioned the soundtrack before, what music are you listening to now?

SM: I listen to Rock a lot, I listen to the Stones, the Kinks and a lot of that music. I like the Arctic Monkeys, I'm kind of more of a Rock and Roll girl. Although, I saw Mos Def play the other day and I'm very into him...

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King!


Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Bill Graham, Elvis…Ziggy Stardust’s the birthday of legendary concert promoter Bill Graham born Wolfgang Grajonca in Berlin, Germany in 1931. A Jew, he was forced to flee Berlin at the age of ten, crossing Europe primarily on foot to escape the rising shadow of the Nazi regime—he’d end up in a orphanage in NY and was adopted by an American couple who lived in the Bronx. Later, after serving in the Korean War he wound up in San Francisco, fell into promoting local live acts but the gig that put him on the map was actually a benefit concert to raise money for the Mime Troupe an act he was promoting whose members had gotten pinched and thrown in jail on obscenity charges by SF’s finest the concert featured Jefferson Airplane, the Fugs and the beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti…he’d later move on to bigger venues, most notable, the Fillmore where he promoted shows for the Grateful Dead (formerly the Warlocks) and made moves to begin his “Bill Graham Presents” concert series that would make the Fillmore a West Coast oasis for music of all genres as Graham promoted talent from across the musical spectrum that ranged from the Dead and Jefferson Airplane to Otis Redding, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Howling Wolf…Bill had a hand in launching the careers of rock ‘n roll luminaries like Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and Carlos Santana and eventually he returned to the East Coast to open the Fillmore East in NYC but soon closed it down in the summer of ‘71 as the promotion game was shifting toward arena rock…continued

Cedric the Entertainer Cleans Up Shop in Code Name (Q&A)

I hooked up with Cedric the Entertainer last month during press coverage for his new spy comedy Code Name: The Cleaner over at the Four Seasons. The film seems to be doing quite well, as of this writing it's at the 12th position in box office returns which isn't bad. Here, Cedric talks about playing Oprah's husband (in the animated film Charlotte's Web), the Michael Richards meltdown, an upcoming hip-hop-era he's set to star in and watching Lucy Liu and Nicollette Sheridan get buck-wild in The Cleaner...

Q: So what was the attraction of this?

Cedric the Entertainer: The main thing for me was trying to do an action comedy. I had been doing the fathers and the romantic comedy leads and that kind of thing so I wanted to be able to shoot off some weapons, kick a door down and get to do a flip or two and show ‘em my skills.

Q: How do you decide what movies you’ll star in?

CE: This movie, again, I was looking for the opportunity to do an action comedy so I got involved pretty early—it was an idea that was happening at Brett Ratner’s company, they had the idea already. I thought it was a cool world and we tried to develop it and so as a producer I got involved with the writer and we tried to hash out the character a little more, the story, and then we tried to come up with the reasons to have the ladies in there, to have Nicollette and Lucy be a part of this project was great. So as an actor, just looking for opportunities to do things that you haven’t done before. I’ve never really had the chance to fire weapons and jump out of helicopters so those are the reasons I wanted to do the movie. I just tried to have some fun with it.

Q: Did you have to prepare to do the dance with Nicollette?

CE: That was so rough, that we had to do it like 30 times, getting my part together.’ I’m sorry, Nicollette, I was looking somewhere else. Can you do it again?’ (laughing)

Q: You’re in Charlotte’s Web now. What was that like? Did you record alone or with Oprah?

CE: I got to record in Oprah and I’m clearly the only person in the world who can say I’m Oprah’s husband. And I’ve been trying to work it. I asked her for the checkbook at least three times...It was great. You do those movies, and I have small children and it’s always fun to be in those situations that they can go see and they hear your voice and it’s a great movie, a classic tale.

Q: Did they like it?

CE: It was a little sad. The spider dies and everything and the pig. And I’m like, Wilbur is bacon. I’m not that kinda father. (licks his fingers).

Q: Did you work with Dakota Fanning?

CE: I didn’t work with Dakota at all. We’d see each other during the press tour but not doing the movie. They actually went to Australia to shoot and I just recorded here in a booth-- I did get to work with Oprah because we played husband and wife and we wanted that kind of…yeah.

Q: You’re doing Madagascar 2, another animated movie. Any idea where the story goes?

CE: No, they have a tight script on this one.

Q: do you enjoy doing animation?

CE: The hard thing about them is you’re trying to act with no other actors in the room, that’s the weird thing about it

Q: They feed you the lines, don't they?

CE: Yeah but that’s totally different because you don’t have the inflections or the style of what the actor may do, you have somebody reading you the line and you have to make it up and so you have to do a couple different versions of how the director sees it, what he sees, which is helpful though because it’s really helpful if the director really has a vision of the movie

Q: And what about Talk to Me and Caught on Tape?

CE: Those are different. Talk to Me is a biopic with Don Cheadle and it’s real cool, it’s a little more of a serious role. I play a real character and Don plays a real character, Petey Green, who was a DJ in the late ‘60s who became an big advocate for the city as a talk radio personality. I play the guy who was #1 at the station until he shows up. So we have this rivalry and there’s a lot of stuff going on. There’s a big fight scene. It’s kind of cool. Caught on Tape is a unique film where Sticky Fingaz, the actor doing the Blade series, he directed this thing where he did everything as a rap opera. All the lyrics are rapped. You record first and then you act your scene out. Mekhi Phifer and a lot of people participated .

Q: Was that difficult?

CE: Yeah, I’m not really a rapper. But he gives you the beats and you have the lyrics and he gives you the idea of how you could flow it and then you do your own thing. It was a unique experience. It was fun to do because you’re delivering lines but you gotta do them in a flow so to speak and then you’ve got to act the scene out and stayon the beat. It was different but I enjoyed the experience of doing it. It was unique.

Q: As a producer, did you think about the casting for international marketing? What were some of your producer roles on it?

CE: Especially early on on this project it was trying to take what was a general idea and figure out how to shape it into something I thought could work, that could be fun and I love the play on the Bourne Identity/Bourne Supremacy thing, that was my thought process behind it but having some fun with it. It did become very important to have Lucy Liu—she’s a producer on the movie too—because we needed to have some international exposure to get play outside the United States. As a producer I had to talk to her and invite her into the movie and convince her to do it with me as well as Nicollette. It’s that whole thing in shaping a project. It’s really hard to get a movie done, period. A lot of times you can look at different stars and go, ‘why would they even do that?’ but just getting green lights nowadays is so difficult and all the studios are dropping their rosters. The majors that once would do 40 films a year are doing 17. If they’re doing 17 total movies you know the African-American movies it’s not even one. You have to go and beg to get a movie made. It becomes very difficult just to be in a position where you can greenlight a movie and let alone where you can shape a project where you can get some play and make some love. We’ve got a comedy coming out after the first of the year and just trying to have some fun with it. That’s all I did.

Q: What’s it like watching Lucy kick butt up close?

CE: She really is skillful. You kind of take it for granted but she is skillful, she really can do that stuff.
You’re kind of surprised at the speed with which she kicks, OK, yeah! She’s like (does moves) and you’re like ‘Whoa!’

Q: You say you like doing things you haven’t done before….Be Cool was definitely your Ezekiel 25:17 moment —do you want to do more stuff like that?

CE: Yeah, I’m definitely looking for opportunities to do things that are a little more serious. Especially in Be Cool that was cool because Gary cast me against type and I thought that was fun to play a little more of the heavy, people can see you in a different light. Now I’m looking for that, a good strong dramatic role where you can get into the Oscar category, you know? Usually with comedians like Jamie or even Robin Williams or Jim Carrey, all these guys take chances on doing things outside of the box, do things that are a little more dramatic so I feel you can do that. Even in Barbershop there was the opportunity for me to do real dramatic scenes that make you aspire me to do it even moreso and try to carry it in a movie. So I’m looking for those kinds of opportunities.

Q: So, on the serious tip, what are your thoughts on the whole Michael Richards, "N-bomb" thing?

CE: It was one of those things where you find very negative especially in this day and age. You know that racism is one of those things that always exists in this country, and is underlying but it’s really bad to see someone who lives in the public sector, in the public eye, to let that kind of rage or underbelly racism come out and just use the word as a weapon. There’s this whole big thing of ‘do we take the word out and let nobody use it no more’ and all that, but it’s been used in our community in a totally different way for many years and I think to have that expectation seems like one of those grandiose soap boxes that people get on and I think if it’s not your taste don’t use it but to say for people…you know where I grew up it’s a term of affection, endearment in a certain way. But any time you use something as a weapon it’s negative. I use the comparison of a vehicle. You drive cars every day but if you try to run someone over with it that’s a negative use of a car. What he did with that word was try to be negative, he was trying to actually hurt those people and that’s what made that a bad situation. He was clearly wrong because there were no N words there, those were clearly African-Americans. An N word would have thrown a chair clear across the room. Somebody would have gotten arrested that evening. These were African-Americans, brother. They were appalled and outraged and wanted to do a press conference.

Q: Would you go back to TV?

CE: Yeah I actually have a deal with Touchstone and ABC right now so I’m developing a TV show for ABC and also I have a deal to produce other shows with a production company. It’s very hard to get movies made nowadays. At one point I would do two, three movies a year and it literally went down to one. And on top of that, that movie is shot in Ireland or Canada, and so again with small kids and they’re now at school age I decided that I didn’t want to be somewhere for four months where I couldn’t be with them and television ends up being the right decision. It seemed to be the opportunity to make a resurgence. None of the majors have a true African-American presence. They have people that are on shows but not really shows with leads. And the sitcom world really died off when the reality boom happened but now there seems to be more of an opportunity. Even though they’re more filmed style, you get shows like The Office or My Name is Earl or 2 1/2 Men that are working as comedy so now there seems to be more opportunity to come up with a TV show that would work, that people would buy and find enjoyable and want to watch. And with the success of shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, ABC seems to be the kind of network that’s looking to win and so we had long conversations but it just seemed like a good move to make so I’m developing a show with Larry Wilmore, who also did Bernie Mac’s show. So we’re developing a show for me and also looking at other ideas to produce as part of our production deal.

Q: Explain Bird and a Bear productions

CE: My manager and partner, he’s been with me since college, he was called Swan, his nickname is Swan and I’m Ceddy Bear, the bear, so a Bird and a Bear.

Q: What about that line about Jet Magazine in the movie you don’t think they’re going to nail your ass?

CE: Yeah, ‘Jet Magazine, for people who like to read but not too much.’ It’s like a magazine-ette.
Q: What do you listen to?

CE: I listen to a lot of old school but I got the new Jay-Z...Marvin Gaye's I Want You album and Frankie Beverly and Maze, John Legend. That’s pretty much it. I got The Dells greatest hits. Dramatics.

Q: What’s the funniest movie ever, in your book, and why?

CE: Ooh. The funniest movie ever? I’ll probably have to go with Coming to America. I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan. I think he’s extremely funny. There’s so many moments in Coming to America that you can kinda go back to whether it be at the barber shop or whatever where he’s singing , it’s so specific that you find little jokes throughout it. I think Animal House was a funny movie too.

Code Name: The Cleaner is in theaters now

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Rockin' Read: The Story of English

...So it’s Sunday and I’m checking Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister LP…I was just thinking about a conversation that I’d had with a friend regarding lyrics/lyricists and how their wordage can make or break a good song (and vice versa) which plays right into the thrust of recent posts about songwriters…being American, I always found it peculiar that when people from the UK sang (the Caribbean too for that matter) they lost whatever discernible hit of an accent that is ordinarily thick as pea soup (I recently heard an interview with B&S’s Stuart Murdoch)...another thing I’ve always tripped on was British slang which seeps into our ears/lexicon over here these day via film and books but such was not always the case as I learned in the book above (written by Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil and Cran William written as an companion for a BBC documentary) which I discovered hidden back in the stacks at my local library…it’s a bona fide find, son, well, if you’re into learning about such things…there’s an early chapter in the book that opens with a litany of Shakespearian quotes that we all use everyday and don’t even realize that starts like this:

“If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ‘It’s Greek to me’, you are quoting Shakespeare…If you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare…If you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, If you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony…laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise – why, be that as it may, the more fool of you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare”

...mind you, there’s more to the book than just quotations from the Bard,continued here

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jan 4th- Happy Birthday Bernard Sumner, Michael Stipe; Jakob Grimm

A happy birthday to Bernard Sumner (third from left) who was born today in Manchester, England back in 1956. In 1978 after getting signed to Enigma Records, Sumner (then using the surname Albrecht) made his musical debut with an eponymous EP in a band that consisted of Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris: Joy Division.

The EP was comprised of only four cuts; "Warsaw", "No Love Lost", "Leaders of Men" and "Failures" and was soon followed by a full length LP called "Unknown Pleasures" at the group's new label Factory. Following the suicide of the band's lead singer, Curtis, Sumner forges ahead with Hook, Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert and change their name to New Order. In 1981 the new group's debut LP, Movement, was released in the UK and hit American shores in '82 but, despite all of this, the group didn't move out of the shadow of Ian Curtis until a year later, when they cut the LP Power, Corruption and Lies in 1983 wherein Sumner would "find his voicing" and help establish a template that would be copied many times over by the legions of New Wave and pop acts that would follow in Sumner's footsteps.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kraftwerk: Hip Hop's Brothers from Another Mother

...I've been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk lately while working at home and I'm loving every minute of it...formed in the late 60s, Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter got together while attending music classes in Dusseldorf and formed their band which means "power station" in German...these cats started dropping electronic bombs way back in the 70s and had a tangential hand at forming the early hip-hop shite that Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force would start pumping out of the Boogie Down Bronx during the embryonic stages of hip hop on cuts like "Planet Rock"...if you listen to enough of Kraftwerk's early stuff you'll hear a grip of material that got lifted by industrious turntablists over here in the states which is why I call them the "Brothers from another Mother"-- it goes both ways on the "lets keep it real" tip, in my opinion, and credit should always be given when it's due, yo...

...if you can remember that track called "Egypt, Egypt" or "My Beat Goes Boom" or "Computer Love" ( !!! ) which were all hitting hard back in the 80s and cut by Greg "The Egyptian Lover" Broussard...take a listen to the beginning of Kraftwerk's "Tour De France" single (listen to the tag button above) which was originally released as a single back in 1983 in preparation for a full-length Kraftwerk album that never materialized; it was re-released two decades later on 2003's LP of the same name- once you check that syncopated loop of heavy breathing, you'll hear precisely what I'm getting at...if none of this rings a bell, check the videos for tunes like "Aéro Dynamik" from the Tour de France LP mentioned above...continued

Happy Birthdays: George Martin, Stephen Stills, Van Dyke Parks, John Paul Jones...and Mr. Frodo

...It’s the birthday of native Londoner George Martin (1926) who’s renown in the music world stems primarily from his work as the producer of the Beatles circa 1962 – 1969…an auspicious chance meeting with a Liverpudlian band manager Brian Epstein who sang the high praises of this quartet in his artist stable led to Martin’s signing the four lads to his label…Though Martin has also worked with such diverse talents as Peter Sellers, Ella Fitzgerald, the rock band America and singers Peter Gabriel and Celine Dion, his Beatles affiliation helped make him the most successful producer in the recording game…’s also the day that Van Dyke Parks came screaming into the world in 1941. Born in Hattiesburg, MS, Parks was a child prodigy who majored in music at the Carnegie Institute and U Penn, a year after he graduated, he was signed to MGM where he cut a marginally successfull single called “Come into the Sunshine” which forced him to form a proper band to perform with but nothing else caught on and the outfit disbanded. After doing session work with Anthony and Cleopatra (later Sonny and Cher), Paul Revere and the Raiders and artists like the Byrds, Judy Collins and Tim Buckley, it was producer Terry Melcher, who hooked parks up with many of the session gigs mentioned earlier, who introduced him to the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson who was searching for a lyricist that was as gifted at writing words as he was at composing—Parks fit the bill and the result: the SMiLE LP…Later, Van Dyke was signed to Warner Bros. by producer Lenny Waronker and helped the A/R man realize his vision for the label…Parks made his debut with the LP Song Cycle, (pictured above)an eclectic mixture of American genres that, despite modest commercial returns, would influence many a recording artist who would follow…the album’s still in print…

...a happy birthday shout-out to Buffalo Springfield and CSN member Stephen Stills who was born in Dallas, TX today…After dropping out of college, he shot up to NYC to become a folk singer, he joined forces with Richie Foray which lead to a tour of Canada where he met guitarist Neil Young who was in an opening act called the Esquires at the time…Stills eventually re-located here, to Los Angeles, where the folk rock scene was picking gaining traction, and after auditioning for session work (and a spot as one of TV’s The Monkees) he got together with Young (who had moved to town after his group, the Mynah Birds which featured the future Punk-funkster Rick James failed to make any waves at their Motown label), Bruce Palmer (bass) and drummer Dewey Martin to form an act that would eventually become Buffalo Springfield—Stephen’s “For What it’s Worth” would make them all stars but within two years the group dissolved…as fate would have it, an impromptu jam session, expedited by Mama Cass Elliott of the Mama’s and the Papas, with David Crosby (formerly of the Byrds) and Graham Nash (formerly of the Hollies) lead to the formation of Crosby,Stills & Nash who’s eponymous debut album blew up, initially based on the popularity of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” which Stills wrote in homage to folk singer Judy Collins…’s also the birthday of another London native, John Paul Jones who was continued

The Sweet Sounds of Saturnine: Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions

...The other day I wrote a post re: re-acquiring a copy of Mazzy Star's So Tonight That I Might See album and got pointed to some Warm Inventions stuff. Subsequently, I copped the Bavarian Fruit Bread LP and the Suzanne EP and I must say that my affinity for the saturnine sensibilities that Sandoval utilized to maximum effect on Mazzy's "Fade into You" has only expounded. On Bavarian Fruit Bread (cover pictured left) the cuts to sample before you purchase are "Suzanne", "On the Low", "Clear Day" and the set-closer, "Lose Me on the Way" the other cuts will grow on you (the title track, by the way, is an instrumental interlude that lasts about 1:21)...The Suzanne EP contains four cuts that support a title track from the Bavarian Fruit Bread set and though I used to hate it when EPs got presented like this in the past, packaged with slices that should've just been added to the proper album, the times have changed since the days when vinyl was the coin of the realm as iTunes makes it possible to sidestep getting saddled with extra trackage- "I Thought You'd Fall for Me" and "Friends of a Smile" are the cuts I've been enjoying from this EP most continued